Trail makes switch in wireless service

The City of Trail is moving to a new cellular service provider, saving them hundreds of dollars in the process.

It pays to shop around.

The City of Trail is moving to a new cellular service provider, saving them hundreds of dollars in the process.

City council agreed during their Nov. 26 general government committee meeting to a contract with Bell for the city’s cell phone services, moving away from Telus, a provider the municipal body had been with for several years.

According to a report from city staff, the city’s operations have become entirely dependent on cellular service.

There are varying levels of usage depending on the area of operation. Some employees are equipped with a basic phone for communication from the field while others are equipped with Blackberry Smartphones for the purpose of retrieving emails and having other office applications synced from the desktop to the phone.

The city has in excess of 30 devices operating at any given time, which include administration, public works, parks and recreation as well as several members of council.

Currently the city spends approximately $20,000 per year on cell phone and associated wireless services.

In a review of cell phone service providers and local vendors—including Bell Canada and Telus for service, Soundwest, BV Communications and Rock Island Tape Centre for vendors—City of Trail information systems coordinator Duane Birnie initially found that Telus offered the best pricing and service choices.

Citing reliability and coverage as key considerations, Birnie said the city had been “very satisfied with the service and response coming from Telus as well as Rock Island.”

But a Nov. 22 report from Birnie turned up a miscommunication from the communications company Telus and the quote was changed.

Through an analysis of city usage over a 10-month period—to estimate the costs of each offer—it was found Bell came in ahead by approximately $90 per month after taxes. The Bell offer also had a better plan for text messaging.

“The City of Trail’s use of text messaging has been steadily increasing and Bell’s offer ensures less coverage charges versus the Telus plan,” Birnie wrote.

As well, Bell offered the city a significant credit for changing from Telus, offering the city a net benefit of $1,785. Telus also came in $500 more in hardware costs over Bell.

Birnie warned council about issues of availability of replacement phones, hidden charges and service related issues, but said both companies operated on the same physical infrastructure.

The new contract involves a pooling of minutes and should eliminate variances in monthly billings—which depended on usage—moving forward.